It’s been a hot, wild and whirlwind of a summer! As the temperatures cool down and vacations come to an end, it’s time to start looking ahead to the coming school year.

But that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop! With Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara, it certainly won’t, and with more than 200 rotating class offerings during the school year, your daughter’s learning doesn’t have to either.

Noozhawk sat down with Annabel Padilla, assistant director of programs, and Kristen Weaver, marketing and communications manager of Girls Inc., to learn more about what the nonprofit organization is offering this fall.

Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara

Q: What is the name of your After-School Program? What is its mission?

A: Girls Inc. inspires all girls to be strong, smart and bold. Our comprehensive approach to whole girl development equips girls to navigate gender, economic and social barriers, and grow up healthy, educated and independent.

Our program designs experiences for the girls within each of these components that empower them to take ownership of what it means to be a girl today, how to view the world without limitations to their potential, and to ultimately ignite a passion within them, whether it be for their education, discovery, facing their own fears or growing beyond what they thought was possible.

The Girls Inc. teen program puts an emphasis on developing leadership skills, STEM studies, college-prep activities and igniting advocacy.
The Girls Inc. teen program puts an emphasis on developing leadership skills, STEM studies, college-prep activities and igniting advocacy. (Girls Inc of Greater Santa Barbara photo)

The Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara After-School Program offers programming for girls in Santa Barbara and Goleta.

Q: What is the age range for children to take part in your program?

A: Our Santa Barbara and Goleta Valley centers serve girls in grades TK-6. Our Teen Center at Goleta Valley serves girls in grades 7-12.

Q. Describe the activities involved.

A: Girls and their parents select their classes each quarter. Class options rotate, with nearly 200 class offerings throughout the year, though the Core essential services — Strong, Smart and Bold programming — remain the focus and the heart of our after-school program.

Strong programs educate girls about healthy nutrition, healthy body image, physical fitness, and prevention of personal violence and substance abuse. Examples: Mind+Body, Mission Nutrition, Surfing, Yoga.

Smart programs challenge girls to explore and be inspired by STEM, economic literacy and college/career planning. Examples: Lego Robotics, Girls Who Code and the Science of Cooking.

Bold programs empower girls to take charge of their personal safety while developing leadership skills and asserting their voice in their communities. Examples: Social Justice Art, She’s on the Money and Express Yourself.

Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara has been providing programming for girls in Santa Barbara County for more than 60 years and has become a staple of the community.
Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara has been providing programming for girls in Santa Barbara County for more than 60 years and has become a staple of the community. (Girls Inc of Greater Santa Barbara photo)

Classes are developmentally appropriate for specific age groups and include STEM, literacy, sports, art, cooking, library skills, computers, performing arts and much more. Curriculum is implemented by caring, qualified and trained professionals with a 14-to-1 girl-to-staff ratio so that each girl gets personalized attention.

Q. What can parents expect their kids to gain from participating?

A: Parents can expect their girls to build a foundation of strong, smart and bold programming, with opportunities to practice their skills and develop upon their inherent strengths while having fun in an all-girl, pro-girl safe and supportive environment. In our teen program, girls develop leadership skills, and focus on STEM and college-prep activities, advocacy, and also have a dedicated homework help time.

Q. Describe what makes your after-school program unique and worthwhile.

A: Girls Inc. provides the amazing all-girl, pro-girl physical environment that is supportive and safe for girls to talk and build confidence in addressing the unique issues that girls face today.

Also, with our “whole-girl” approach, we provide exposure to a variety of sports, adventure, educational and performing arts programming, all from one “home-base.” Our parents love this unique aspect of our after-school program.

Q: When was Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara started, and what was the inspiration for creating it?

A: The Santa Barbara affiliate of Girls Inc. began in 1958 and has been offering programming for nearly 60 years. The program was created as a way to provide sustained exposure to the Girls Inc. experience, helping girls continue to grow, stay connected, and have a safe and secure place to build their confidence and practice being strong, smart and bold as they become young women. The Girls Inc. organization has national roots dating back to 1864.

Q: Has any part of the program changed since it was created?

A: Being a research-based program, Girls Inc. strives to keep our content and instruction current with the issues and needs that girls face as they grow and develop. These issues are ever-evolving, with new pressures and new expectations and limitations each generation. Girls Inc. is out ahead of this curve for girls and is always expanding its partnerships with other service providers to best support the needs of girls in our community.

Q: What is the best part, in your opinion, about Girls Inc.’s program?

A: The best part is the all-girl, pro-girl environment and our mentoring relationships. Girls return to Girls Inc. year after year because of the relationships they form with their facilitators and with other girls in the program.

We also work with great community program partners to help expose girls to new experiences and networks of professionals, such as golfers (The First Tee of Central Coast), surfers (Surf Happens), artists (Santa Barbara Museum of Art), marine biologists (Santa Barbara Channelkeeper), psychologists (Hearts Therapeutic Equestrian Center and CALM) and professors (UC Santa Barbara Curie-osity Project), to name a few.

Q. Describe a favorite activity!

A: We focus on the whole girl, with programming designed to give girls the opportunity to explore a range of subject areas and interests — all in a safe pro-girl environment that promotes following their curiosities.

Girls Inc. celebrates that each girl has her own unique interests. Some girls prefer to spend time in the scientist’s lab, in the artist’s workshop, in the computer lab, or in the performing arts studio. Girls are given options to help develop their individual interests and their inherent strengths.

Q. In what ways is Girls Inc.’s program educational?

A: Girls Inc. is an extension of school-based learning. Our dedicated professional staff work hard to create classes that promote the skills, tools and knowledge that enhance a girl’s academic performance and increase her confidence as a student.

Incorporating literacy and STEM, as well as dedicating time for homework assistance, are just a few of the ways that we support school-based learning. Girls apply their resilience and problem-solving skills they learn at Girls Inc. to their academic work, and they learn to create goals for themselves that are part of their plan for high school, college and beyond.

Q. Is there anything else parents should know when deciding whether to send their kids to your program?

A: The Girls Inc. After-School Program is offered at the following Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara locations: Goleta Valley Center, 4973 Hollister Ave., 805.967.0319 (Teen Center located on site) and the Santa Barbara Center, 531 E. Ortega St., 805.963.4017.

The Fall 2017 program begins Aug. 21, with school pick-ups beginning the first day of school. We offer transportation from Santa Barbara Unified, Goleta Union and Hope Elementary school district schools at no additional cost. Financial assistance and sibling discounts are available.

Girls in grades TK-6 may attend part-time (1-2 days per week) or full-time (3-5 days per week). Program fees are $110-$120/week full time and $65-$75/week part time. Girls in grades 7-12 may attend the teen program part-time for $30/week or full time for $50/week.

Click here for more information about Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara, or to sign up. Registration packets and financial assistance applications are available at both the Santa Barbara and Goleta locations.

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